Exploring the 1835 NC Constitutional Convention
This internet scavenger hunt allows students to read the actual proceedings of the 1835 Constitutional Convention while they discover for themselves some of the significant amendments that were made. The activity also sets the foundation for class discussions about why the state Constitution was amended in 1835 and what impact the amendments had on religious groups, free blacks, and American Indians.
A lesson plan for grade 8 Social Studies
- investigate North Carolina’s lack of progress following the War of 1812 by looking at its economic, political, and social conditions of that time.
- review the progressive vision of Archibald Murphey and make connections between Murphey’s call for constitutional reform in the 1820’s and the Constitutional Convention of 1835.
- examine, understand, and evaluate the viewpoints expressed during the 1835 Convention.
- rationalize and predict the impact the Convention’s decisions would have on the people of North Carolina.
Time required for lesson
Two to three days
- Copies of the Scavenger Hunt Worksheet — one per student
- Computer lab or individual student computers for at least half the students in a class (students will be working in pairs or groups of three).
- Access to the Journal of the Convention on the Documenting the American South site
- Prior to the scavenger hunt, students will need to have a clear understanding of the following through classroom activities and discussions:
- North Carolina’s reputation as the “Rip Van Winkle” state in the early 1800’s
- Archibald Murphey’s efforts to stimulate educational, economic, and political reform in the 1820’s.
- The early rise to power of the Whig party, which finally led to the state legislature calling for a convention to amend the state’s 1776 constitution.
- Students will be assigned to groups of two or three, depending on the number of students in the class and the number of available computers with internet access.
- The teacher will provide a copy of the Scavenger Hunt Worksheet for each student.
- Students will type in the link to the Documenting the American South site provided in the directions on the worksheet.
- Student groups will answer the scavenger hunt questions as they read the Convention proceedings.
- At the end of the class period, each student will turn in his/her completed scavenger hunt worksheet to the teacher.
- Students may need to finish the scavenger hunt, depending on the class time from the first day.
- Return the Scavenger Hunt Worksheets and have students share their answers during a whole class discussion.
- Students will then combine their groups to include four to six members. Assign each group one of the questions on the fourth page of the Scavenger Hunt Worksheet to analyze and evaluate.
- Students will investigate possible answers to their assigned question, using the resources suggested in the directions. They will consolidate their conclusions into a two to three minute presentation/talk to share with the whole class. This final activity can be done as a presentation with a visual, if time allows, or as a general discussion forum.
- Individual contribution to group scavenger hunt
- Accuracy in answering the scavenger hunt questions. See the answer key to assist with evaluation.
- Depth of understanding and analysis in the group answers and comments on their assigned “For Discussion” question as well as in each member’s contribution.
- These activities can be done together as a whole class rather than in small groups if there are not enough computers available as long as all students can view the Internet sites from a common screen.
- By being allowed to work in collaborative small groups, students have the opportunity to assist one another in reading, comprehending, and evaluating. Using this format allows for differentiation for struggling readers and ELL students.
- North Carolina Essential Standards
- Social Studies (2010)
- 8.C&G.1 Analyze how democratic ideals shaped government in North Carolina and the United States. 8.C&G.1.1 Summarize democratic ideals expressed in local, state, and national government (e.g. limited government, popular sovereignty, separation of powers,...
- 8.H.1 Apply historical thinking to understand the creation and development of North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.1.1 Construct charts, graphs, and historical narratives to explain particular events or issues. 8.H.1.2 Summarize the literal meaning of...
- 8.H.2 Understand the ways in which conflict, compromise and negotiation have shaped North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.2.1 Explain the impact of economic, political, social, and military conflicts (e.g. war, slavery, states’ rights and citizenship...
- Social Studies (2010)
North Carolina curriculum alignment
Social Studies (2003)
- Goal 3: The learner will identify key events and evaluate the impact of reform and expansion in North Carolina during the first half of the 19th century.
- Objective 3.02: Investigate the conditions that led to North Carolina's economic, political, and social decline during this period and assess the implications for the future development of the state.
- Objective 3.03: Identify and evaluate the impact of individual reformers and groups and assess the effectiveness of their programs.
- Objective 3.07: Explain the reasons for the creation of a new State Constitution in 1835, and describe its impact on religious groups, African Americans, and American Indians.